Arkells are known as relentless roaddogs that turn every concert hall, festival or collegiate homecoming into a communal choir. When they’re not on stage, they’re crammed into vans, trailer and the luxurious life of travel. There’s a lot of empty space in that time, pre-occupied by Netflix binges, greasy spoons and podcasts.
From their European leg of their tour, frontman Max Kerman couldn’t help himself from lamenting his love for the well-crafted digital audio files known as podcasts.
BY: MAX KERMAN
Fellow podcast nerds and newbies,
When I’m on the road with Arkells, I listen to podcasts all day, every day. The whole band does. It helps us get through the monotonous parts of being in a touring band. I’m forever grateful that they are free and on demand. I typically have my earbuds in when I’m loading into a venue, in line at an airport or going to sleep in a hotel.
Podcasts are similar to TV shows in that you can put on one depending on your mood. It’s also important to remember that like your favourite TV shows, it typically takes a few episodes to develop relationships with the characters. Give each pod an episode or two before you make a judgement!
Here’s a guide to some of my favourite podcasts:
Question Of The Day
This is a new podcast hosted by James Altucher and Stephen Dubner. It’s a very loose premise. Each episode, they simply ponder aloud one question about the world. Many of their conversations go off the rails and that’s the fun part. They have the special chemistry of old friends. Both are very smart and curious and despite their respective career accomplishments, they share a humility that is endearing. Dubner is the co-author of the best selling Freakonomics series and also hosts the Freakonomics podcast. Altucher is also a best selling author and entrepreneur.
Bill Simmons Podcast
Simmons is the arguably the most important sports writer/personality in America. Despite the influence and fame, he still has the giddy and often irrational perspective of an impassioned sports fan. It’s great! He not only has great guests (lately, Malcolm Gladwell, Chuck Klosterman) but also chats regularly with his friends from college and his retired dad. This podcast is like sitting in on a conversation between your most charming know-it-all friends who are insane for sports, and clearly love each other.
The Gist With Mike Pesca
Daily show. Typically half hour long. News, politics and a little sports. Pesca is an amazing performer. Killer writer. He has the attitude and wit of a true New Yorker, but as smart as an Ivy leaguer. Great guests from all areas of the culture – music, sports, science. You can hear the preparation and heart that he puts into every show.
Slate Political Gabfest
My job in the band never follows a typical week, but I look forward to Friday because the Gabfest comes out on Friday. Great, fun, and smart commentary on US politics. The three hosts are all incredible talents on their own, but the chemistry between them is what I tune in for. David Plotz (former editor of Slate) is a liberal, but also a contrarian. Emily Bazelon (writer for the New York Times magazine) is a lawyer, proud feminist, and Yale professor. John Dickerson is a long time Washington political reporter. Along with his ardent commitment to getting the facts right and presenting all sides of the story, he’s awesomely poetic in his speech and prose. He was recently anointed host of CBS’s Face The Nation, and has movie star good looks to boot! Maybe my favourite podcast of all.
Brett Easton Ellis Podcast
No one discusses cultural discourse like Brett Easton Ellis. He takes pop culture very seriously. At times, he comes off so intensely self-serious that might make you roll your eyes a bit, but if you can dive into his world (view), you’ll really enjoy the show. I love the passion in his conversations. Also, he has a genuine distaste for millennials and polite culture, which this day and age is quite refreshing. A range of guests from Kanye to author David Shields, to Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend.
Mike On Much Podcast
Since I love podcasts so much, I wanted to produce one myself. I have many smart and charming friends, but there isn’t anyone quite like Mike Veerman. I’ve always thought he’d be an amazing radio or TV host, so I asked if he would “star”, and together we’d create a podcast of our own. We wanted to combine our favourite aspects of other podcasts: the warmths and chemistry between old friends, interesting guests and some pop culture conversations.
The show is continuing to evolve, but so far the show’s form borrows from The Gist with Mike Podcast. It’s three parts: Show open, where Mike and I catch up, and discuss the preparing for the feature interview. The feature interview is where Mike is honing his interview chops. He’s already amazing and a total natural, one day he’ll be Canada’s premiere interviewer. So far we’ve had everyone from Chris Hadfield to Frank Turner to Josh Groban etc. The “dessert” is the final part of the show, featuring our friend Shane Cunningham who offers a review of a movie or concert he’s scene recently. Like Question Of The Day, the final segment often goes off the rails, with Shane discussing something involving his personal life. Shane is one of the funniest people I know, and delivers every week. I hope you tune in!